Scandi kitchen ideas – 30 ways to work the cool and calm Nordic aesthetic

Embrace one of the most alluring interior design styles in the heart of your home with everything from flooring and paint to accessories

scandi style kitchen with white walls and worktops and dark painted cabinetry below
(Image credit: Future PLC / James French)

If your heart wants a modern and clutter-free kitchen filled with light, Scandi kitchen ideas are for you. Scandinavian-style kitchen ideas bring to mind crisp white walls, pale wooden worktops, clean lines and minimal fuss. But thanks to injections of warmth through accessories, materials and lighting, they never feel cold. They're a curious and difficult-to-master blend of minimalist and cosy.

If you want some of this Nordic magic, keep scrolling for lots of inspo and expert advice. While most Scandi schemes start with white walls, there's plenty of scope to bring in colour and pattern. Plus, if you find cooking stressful, a Scandi kitchen might be the perfect backdrop to help you stay cool, calm and collected.

Scandi kitchen ideas

'First coming to prominence in the 1950s, the simplicity and timelessness of Scandinavian style is an interior design trend that has been incorporated into our homes ever since, either in full or intricate details,' says Bo Hellberg, CMO at String Furniture. 'Perfectly merging functionality with style, Scandinavian style brings a calm and warm feel into a home through its use of neutral colours, clean lines and natural materials.'

1. Bounce light around with tiles

white kitchen with hexagonal tiles

(Image credit: Future PLC / David Giles)

White kitchen tiles in a high gloss finish will enhance the natural light levels, bouncing light around, as well as being an easy-to-clean backsplash. Whether you use thin, rectangular tiles arranged vertically, go for a more graphic chevron pattern, or choose simple hexagonal tiles, white tiles will bring subtle pattern to your Scandi scheme while making the most of the light available.

2. Soften the look with sheepskin

white scandi style dining table in bright space

(Image credit: Future PLC / James French)

Over the last few years, the kitchen has become the key sitting room in our homes. It often doubles up as a home office, it's where the kids do their homework and it's where we catch up at the end of the day. Tactile materials like a sheepskin blanket draped effortlessly over bench seating will stop the kitchen from feeling too 'kitcheny' in the evening when you want to relax over dinner. The textural and tonal contrast between the warm wood tones and off-white sheepskin and the modern furniture also feels very Scandi.

3. Layer chopping boards

layered wooden chopping boards

(Image credit: Future PLC)

'When looking to have a Scandi style in your kitchen you want to focus on warmth,' says Tash Bradley, Lick’s Director of Interior Design. 'Look to incorporate a warm wood contrasted with a contemporary darker metal feature as this combination instantly gives off a Scandi feel. This can be done through simple additions such as chunky wooden chopping boards and Kilner jars with a black metal clasp for example. For a Scandi colour palette I’d always suggest a light colour scheme, such as soft beiges, whites and subtle greens.'

4. Free up wall space to display art and sculptural branches

kitchen with black worktop and white wall with shelf and wall light

(Image credit: Future PLC / James French)

Scandi-style kitchens are calm and uncluttered. Rethink things so you that have a wall free of upper cabinets to create a real sense of space. Interiors expert Laurence Llewelyn Bowen says removing wall units and having more space for wallpaper and hanging pictures will make the kitchen feel more homely. 

'Stop thinking about the kitchen as something that needs to be kept perpetually clean, like it's an operating theatre, and start thinking about it as somewhere that needs to be the background for some of the most lovely moments that you're going to have,' he says.

5. Gather around a banquette

white kitchen with bay window and banquette seat

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Create a seating area that oozes the comfortable conviviality the Scandinavians are known for. Banquette seating with plenty of cushions, blankets and carefully placed candles will bring a hygge element to your kitchen space, perfect for cosy evenings in. A banquette is a relaxed seating option, and can also make use of awkward corners. Use the inside as an extra hidden kitchen storage idea for stowing away bigger, less frequently used items.

6. Create monochromatic moments

scandi style kitchen with dining table and wooden chairs, blackboard paint

(Image credit: Future PLC / Blackmore Photography)

'Pairing monochromatic elements with neutral, natural materials creates the perfect fusion between practicality and a sleek minimalist look,' says Nadia McCowan Hill, Wayfair's resident style advisor. Pair a unique black fruit bowl with linen napkins, blend natural stoneware and woven baskets with a black wooden dining chair or black water jug. These black accents create contrast and help to ground the scheme.

7. Choose sustainable flooring

pale cork flooring with dining chair legs

(Image credit: Recork)

Your kitchen flooring is just as important as your cabinetry – you want it to be hardwearing and easy to clean, and ideally, sustainable. Cork kitchen flooring is a great option for a Scandi-style kitchen. 'Inherently natural, renewable and robust, cork is hard wearing and is well suited to high foot traffic areas like kitchens, without compromising the environment as it’s entirely sustainable,' say the flooring experts at Recork. 'The natural colour of cork also lends itself to the Scandi theme perfectly.'

8. Bring warmth with exposed brick

scandi style kitchen with white walls and worktops and dark painted cabinetry below

(Image credit: Future PLC / James French)

Scandi interiors are full of warmth, providing inviting indoor spaces in which to find refuge against the cold and long winters of the region. Exposed brick (or a realistic wallpaper equivalent) will bring character and texture to warm things up, preventing your scheme from looking cold. Throwing down a washable rug and displaying rough handcrafted stoneware on worktops will also make the space feel homely, hygge and nourishing.

9. Display items you use everyday

white kitchen with cabinets and wall clock

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Nordic countries are famous for their minimalistic and streamlined style. However, this couldn't be achieved without a few clever storage solutions. Keep worktops clear with shelves and hanging racks.

Shelves are a great way to store items that you use every day like crockery, or tea and coffee caddies. Hang mugs and chopping boards from a rail for easy access when you need them.

Hanging cooking utensils on a rack beside the hob is an easy way to give your kitchen a more homely feel and it'll free up space inside kitchen cupboards, too. The same goes for a ceiling rack for hanging up pots and pans.

10. Embrace neutrals

kitchen with cabinets and white worktop

(Image credit: Gunter & Co/Mary Wadsworth)

At the core of Scandi kitchen ideas is the theme of neutral spaces. Stick to a restrained colour palette for a sophisticated and Nordic inspired theme.

Tonal shades will add interest to the look without adding jarring colourways to take it away from the Scandi style. This will keep it chic and neatly in line with stylish modern kitchen ideas.

11. Hide clutter in floor to ceiling cabinets

white kitchen with cupboard and cabinets

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Floor-to-ceiling cabinets are a genius way of hiding clutter that can gather on kitchen counters. Invest in a cabinet with space to hide a microwave, kettle, coffee machine and other gadgets that clutter up worktops. Some cabinets have hidden worktops in that you can set up as a breakfast station.

You simply open them up when morning rolls around and close them behind you as you dash out on the school run.

12. Combine woods and black shades

kitchen with grey cabinets and white worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

For the most contemporary take on Scandi kitchen ideas, go for a combination of strong, linear blacks and natural woods. Although technically opposites in terms of style, the two marry together beautifully and perfectly combine the modern vibes of Nordic living with the back to nature vibes of the area's history.

13. Bring the outside in

kitchen with white and blue cabinets

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Scandi kitchen ideas - and, for that matter, Scandi style in general, celebrates the beauty of nature. Make this work in your space by bringing as much of the outdoors into your home. It'll boost light levels, too, making it perfect for even small kitchen ideas. Plant in your garden strategically, so you're looking out at abundant greenery and textures.

Inside, reflect this with pale green touches on cabinetry and, of course, fresh flowers and foliage.

14. Make it sociable

white kitchen with worktop and wooden floor

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Parmiter)

Nordic homes are inherently inviting and sociable spaces. In your kitchen, you want to create a room where everyone feels welcome and one way to achieve this is through seating.

Include bar stools at your kitchen island ideas so guests can gather around while you cook. A dining table gives even more seating, making sure the space is inclusive to everyone.

15. Let the light in

dining room with yellow couch and dining table

(Image credit: Future PLC/James French)

Scandi summers are full of light, while the winters have very little sunshine, so their homes are designed to let in as much light as possible year round. Take this on in your kitchen by opting for a glass-topped side return, or row of skylights. The back of the kitchen could have sliding or bifold glass doors.

Mirrored and glass surfaces are a welcome addition, to help bounce around even the lowest of light sources.

16. Use natural materials

kitchen with white cabinets and worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Add texture and interest to your kitchen by using a variety of natural materials and finishes. Rattan, weaves and glass all embrace simplicity, while adding depth to potentially otherwise flat and glossy space.

17. Make a feature of glass storage jars

white room with shelving and table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb)

Simple Scandi kitchen ideas include making a feature of the everyday essentials, as shown above. Add interest to open kitchen shelving ideas by decanting dried goods, such as flour, pasta and rice, into clip-top glass jars and lining them up on a shelf.

Storing fruit and veg in natural hessian baskets is an affordable way to add relaxed country style to your kitchen. Try adding colour by growing herbs in zinc pots, too.

18. Stick to a white colour palette

white kitchen with cabinets and worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

You can't go wrong with white kitchen ideas when creating your own Scandi-style kitchen. 'For Scandinavian kitchen interiors, a cool light colour palette is advised to create a sense of purity and calmness,' says Darren Watts, Design Director, Wren Kitchens.

This makes it perfect for making the most out of smaller spaces. Add warmth to the space by pairing the white with wooden and copper accents. In a small kitchen, space is at a premium so make the most of every inch with open shelves for everyday items above the sink, as seen in this kitchen.

19. Cast a warm glow with pendant lighting

white kitchen with worktop and hanging lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Light is incredibly important in Nordic design due to the long dark winter days. Scandinavians tend to create pools of light with low hanging pendant lights. Be playful with your kitchen lighting ideas with a slick design or splash of colour like these lovely pale turquoise shades. They will be at eye level, after all. Muted blues and greens are oh-so Scandi.

20. Add warmth with oak

kitchen with wooden shelves and grey cabinets

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole)

A Scandi scheme can instantly be warmed with the addition of natural surfaces. Oak worktops, freestanding furniture or an open shelving unit will add character and lend a laid-back country vibe.

Of course, open shelving is ideal for storing glassware, kitchen tools and cookbooks – a great way to add colour and a vintage look to your neutral Scandi kitchen ideas, too. Use houseplants to add colour and welcome the outdoors in.

21. Make space for a dinner table

kitchen with grey worktop and flower vase

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Gathering together for meals as a family is incredibly important in Scandinavian culture. Make space for a dining table or breakfast bar to ensure the kitchen is the heart of the home.

A dining area is also a great space to add warmth through texture and colour. Opt for a wooden table, soft furnishings and fresh flowers to add depth to open-plan kitchen ideas.

22. Add authenticity with wood

kitchen with wooden cabinets and worktop

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Wood finishes are a key part of creating an authentic Scandinavian kitchen. However, wood isn't just for floors and worktops. Opt for wood or wood effect kitchen cabinets to showcase the natural material.

'Look to light coloured wood like beech or ash for flooring, dining tables or worktops if budget allows,' suggests Hayley Simmons, Head of Merchandising, Magnet. 'Avoid stained or varnished woods for countertops as the raw, natural, untreated look is much more in-keeping with Scandinavian style.'

23. Try two tone cabinets for a designer look

white kitchen with wooden cabinets and book shelf

(Image credit: Future PLC)

While most Scandinavian design relies on a muted colour palette, don't be afraid to add personality with a splash of colour. 'If colour is a must in your home, look to pale greys, pinks or blues but use these sparingly for maximum impact,' advises Hayley from Magnet.

Stick to a simple colour palette that highlights the design like in this kitchen. The two-tone cabinets emphasise the clean lines rather than detracting from it.

24. Add metallic accents

white kitchen with wooden worktop and potted plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Metallic accents – especially copper – will add warmth to a minimal white kitchen colour schemes. When working with a limited colour scheme play with textures, shapes and finishes. You'll earn extra style points if you invest in some copper pans, both practical and pretty.

25. Accessorise with houseplants

white kitchen with worktop and cabinets

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles)

House plant ideas are a great way to soften the functionality of the space. 'Don't be afraid to accessorise with textured placemats, wall hangings or rugs in the kitchen,' says Hayley from Magnet.

'Complete the look with some fresh flowers, houseplants or potted herbs for another nod to nature that's typical of Scandinavian style.'

26. Pair statement flooring with white walls

white kitchen with cabinets and hanging pots

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Giles)

Sticking to a neutral colour scheme doesn't mean you can't have some fun with the design. Opt for playful geometric kitchen flooring ideas like in this kitchen. The bold zigzag pattern is made up of sleek clean lines featuring the Scandi style dream team – white and wood. However, it is also bursting with personality.

Nordic design might be neutral and minimal, but it is important that you find away to stamp your personality on the space.

27. Work in subtle pastels

white dining room with table and chairs

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Parmiter)

If you want to add colour to your all-white scheme choose diluted colours that feel soft alongside the neutral base of white. Pastels are the perfect pairing, from baby blue and mint green to powder pink, adding a subtle accent colour without overpowering the effortlessly simple ethos of Scandi styling.

28. Choose wire storage

kitchen storage with storage unit and tupperware

(Image credit: Future PLC/Emma Mitchell)

Give your kitchen a back-to-school look with wire kitchen storage ideas. A simple unit is the ideal place to store tumblers, Tupperware and clip-top glass jars. Be selective about what to display so the overall effect is attractive, not cluttered.

29. Invite a friendly touch with family photos

white dining room with dining table and wall shelf

(Image credit: Future PLC/Johanna Henderson)

If there's one thing we've learnt from the practice of Hygge, it is to surround ourselves with items that make us feel happy. What could be happier than filling the space with treasured photos of loved ones.

Welcome framed photos into your social kitchen space to echo the sentiment. Use coordinating frames to prevent the look from feeling cluttered and overpowering. Remember you're looking to make a statement, but keep it simple.

30. Create a chalkboard wall

dining room with chalkboard with dining table

(Image credit: Future PLC/Tom Meadows)

Painting a large area of a wall in chalkboard paint to create a noticeboard is a simple Scandi kitchen idea that brings character to a pared-back room. For a more contemporary look, paint a section of wall from floor to ceiling and use a chalkboard pen to create a menu-inspired artwork. Write happy affirmations or messages to welcome guests, use the wall as suits to make your home feel happy.

What is a Scandi kitchen?

The idea that 'form follows function' is fundamental to Scandi design, so Scandi kitchens are full of practical solutions that look great. They have plenty of storage hidden away behind sleek cabinetry, rustic tables and wishbone chairs for gathering around and touches of comfort like a small area rug.

Stephany Smith, a home improvement and interior expert at Fantastic Services explains it combines clean lines, a bright ambience, and natural materials. 'Every design element should relate first to its intended function and then its aesthetics,' she says. 

Layout is an important element of Scandi kitchen ideas. To stick with the Scandinavian design movement, aim for an open-plan kitchen with plenty of space for the family to gather. If you only have a small kitchen layout to work with, you can still replicate this effect by introducing other elements of Scandinavian design, such as a muted colour palette and clever storage solutions to make the space feel bright and organised.

How do you style a Scandi kitchen?

'When styling Scandi kitchen ideas, less is more,' says Hayley from Magnet. 'Keep countertops decluttered and let textures and textiles do the talking to really embrace the minimalist way of life.'

Hayley suggests styling a kitchen with simple and natural objects like fresh flowers, textured placemats, wall hangings and houseplants. A mug hanger attached to the wall is another great way to add a touch of personality to the kitchen. Try Denby Pottery if you fancy investing in some beautiful new mugs in muted colours.

Just be careful not to go overboard, the beauty of a Scandinavian design is its simplicity. You don't want to overwhelm the kitchen with clutter.

The final touch is lighting. 'Throughout the winter months, the days in the northern hemisphere are extremely short, with only a few hours of daylight,' explains Darren from Wren Kitchens. 'Unsurprisingly, the use of light is very important in Nordic design, with many interiors focusing on creating bright, well-lit spaces.'

Opt for pendant lights over a kitchen island to cast a cosy glow over the entire kitchen. In small kitchens, cleverly placed lights on shelves will also work a treat.

What is a Japandi kitchen?

A Japandi kitchen takes the best of Japanese Zen minimalism and Scandinavian hygge to create a space that feels modern but cosy, casual and serene, says interiors expert Stephany Smith. It has lots of natural materials, an absence of clutter and a tranquil, grounding feel.

'The Japandi colour palette consists of warm neutrals. This design choice serves the same purpose as it does in Scandi interiors, to bring more light into the space during the dark and cold months when there isn’t much of it,' says Stephany.

Rebecca Knight
Deputy Editor, Digital

Rebecca Knight has been the Deputy Editor on the Ideal Home Website since 2022. She graduated with a Masters degree in magazine journalism from City, University of London in 2018, before starting her journalism career as a staff writer on women's weekly magazines. She fell into the world of homes and interiors after joining the Ideal Home website team in 2019 as a Digital Writer. In 2020 she moved into position of Homes News Editor working across Homes & Gardens, LivingEtc, Real Homes, Gardeningetc and Ideal Home covering everything from the latest viral cleaning hack to the next big interior trend. 

With contributions from